Cats really are special – at least according to a group of scientists.
An academic paper which argues that cats can be regarded as liquid and solid because of their ability to adopt the shape of their container has won a major prize.
The eye-catching work has been rewarded with an Ig Nobel prize.
The awards are handed out to scientists that come up with improbable research that make people laugh and think.
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The paper, called ‘On the Rheology of Cats’ argues that household pets should be seen as both of liquid and solid because of their special skill.
It was written by French academic, Marc-Antoine Fardin, from Paris.
It was inspired by pictures of cats on the internet, showing the animals in any kind of container from sinks to sweet jars.
M Fardin concludes in the paper:
In flows of Felis catus, significant normal forces can occur and they seem to be able to drive a Weissenberg-type effect In conclusion, much more work remains ahead, but cats are proving to be a rich model system for rheological research, both in the linear and nonlinear regimes. Standing questions include the potential implications of the rheology of cats on their righting reflex, and whether the nonlinear self-sustaining mechanism for turbulence in pipe is applicable to streaks of tigers. Very recent experiments from Japan also suggest that we should not see cats as isolated fluid systems, but as able to transfer and absorb stresses from their environment. Indeed, in Japan, they have cat cafes, where stressed out customers can pet kitties and purr their worries away.
M Fardin also assures his readers that no animals were harmed during his research. HE also, somewhat amusingly, reveals the complicated technique he utilised to test the animals.
1. Bring an empty box;
The Ig Nobel prize is an annual awards ceremony. 10 prizes are handed out.
Other winners this year included one for a discovery that taking up the didgeridoo reduces snoring, and another for how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to gamble.